This talk is a rare thing in the discussion around teen pornography use: a measured, balanced take that doesn’t shy away from the harms, but also avoids unhelpful moralising.

This is unsurprising given the speaker’s stance and background. As a trained social scientist with a sex-positive mindset, Prof Rothman is both trained to be objective and also not inclined to see harm in sexual behaviour unless it can be proved. Despite this, as someone researching sexual violence she does draw strong links between the kind of sex depicted in mainstream pornography (the kind young people are most likely to encounter on the Internet) and an increasing disregard for consent and tendency towards more extreme, risky sex acts.

The balance of the talk is due to Rothman not extending her condemnation beyond what’s supported by science, and also not placing the whole blame for these trends on pornography. She points out that while this medium is more widespread than previously it’s by no means ubiquitous in young people, and because of this the increasingly ‘pornified’ sections of the mainstream media may be doing as much or more damage than pornography itself.

Rothman also claims that a major factor causing young people to turn to pornography is the failure of the education system and wider society to talk to them openly about sex. The students she talked to wanted to talk about sex, pornography and the difference between the two, but their education system in particular was failing to do so. The problem was even worse for non-heterosexual students, as other sexualities were not mentioned even in schools who actually had sex ed. Under these circumstances, she argues, it’s not surprising that young people are turning to pornography as the default sex educator, even though it’s a terrible one.

Read the full article by Emily F. Rothman at: MedPage Today

Feature image Source: Pixabay